Contaminated’s 5 Most Underrated Nasty Death Metal Releases
This week on the Friday Guest List we’re getting our hands dirty with some filthy as fuck death metal courtesy of upcoming Australian band Contaminated.
G’day! Your debut album Final Man released just over a month ago now, how are you finding the reception so far?
The reception has been overwhelmingly great so far, tons of people saying they dig it and some really good reviews popping up etc. And people seem to positively respond to the specific things we tried to aim for, i.e. trying to make sure the mix is super heavy and dirty sounding, that it sounds like an extension of what the old Finnish death metal bands were doing without being a straight rip-off, and that there’s an energy and liveness to it, and seems like those are what people have picked up on so we’re happy that we successfully conveyed what we wanted to and people dig it. We all feel we made a great record and one that would be enjoyed by like-minded chuds but honestly at this early stage in the album’s release so much credit has to go to Blood Harvest for really getting it out there and being super supportive with promoting it all over the place.
Ken oath. Blood Harvest Records has been consistently putting out ridiculously high-quality death metal over the last couple of years, you must of been pretty stoked for the album to get picked up by them, how did that come about?
Basically since the word go I wanted Blood Harvest to put out our album, if for no other reason than he put out the first Verminous album! And also his old grind/fast hardcore label Putrid Filth Conspiracy was one of the best labels of the early 2000’s. Rodrigo always does a great job and has high quality releases, so we basically approached him first, told him how much we’d love to work with him and he said he was keen. It was pretty easy I guess, and we’re super stoked to be working with him. And it happened at a good time too as Blood Harvest have sorted some new distribution channels recently too that are really helping get the record out there. We did a great record we’re really proud of and it really means a lot that Rodrigo has put in so much work, really more than we ever could have expected, and is helping us do shit we couldn’t have ourselves. Also Blood Harvest just confirmed doing the CD version of our local mates Faceless Burial‘s album so we’re stoked for them to get on this horse with us cos they rule and deserve the same sort of support we’ve been lucky enough to have!
The cover art is mental, who designed it and what the fuck is going on in it?
The cover art is by a local chud named Stewart Cole, who also sings in Asbestosisis who are a goregrind band that Nick who plays bass in Contaminated plays in too. It’s basically Stew’s take on the title Final Man, I guess we said we wanted something kind of monstrous and with a post-apocalyptic feel. He did an amazing job as he always does and he’s don tons of amazing art over the past few years but this is definitely one of my favourites of his. It conveys the music really well I think: malformed, imprecise, brutish, filthy, very ugly but still with some sort of idiotic charm. If anyone is interested in getting in touch with Stew about getting art done please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass on his contact.
You guys just played shows with Grave Miasma, Fetid and Sewercide. How’d they go? Any more tour announcements coming up?
We have no shows coming up at the moment as far as I know, but that often changes quickly. The show with Fetid was fucking sick. I organised that really hurriedly two days before the show so Fetid would get another show in our town and to see some more of our town’s sweet bands. Contaminated actually played without our singer Zev and my brother Jacob (who has been in Roskopp, Agents Of Abhorrence, Garbage Guts, and Aeroflot and now lives in L.A where he plays in Radiation Vomit and Yesterday) was in town so he filled in on vocals and it was really great. That was a great show, it was in the afternoon and Fetid were so killer, one of the best DM bands going at the moment and Jullian from Fetid was drumming for Sewercide for the show and that was great to see too. It gave them more of a heavy handed lumpen feel than their usual razor sharp style, both of which are killer and they always sound great, but I love Jullian’s style of playing so it was really mad to see how different drumming styles can change the flavour of a band.
The Grave Miasma show was cool too, it was in a huge venue and was kinda expensive so the turnout was kinda small but Grave Miasma were really good and we had a good time road tripping over to Adelaide to play it. We’re making plans right now to tour the US in mid-2018, so although that’s a long way off getting ‘announced’ we are super keen to do it and we are gonna hit up MDF and go see Enemy fucking SOILLLLLL! And go get rowdy in the Midwest with all the crazy grinders out there. The ‘metal’ scene here doesn’t seem to have that much to do with us so we sort of exist in our own little mess of mishmashed idiots and misfits, which is kind of what we are anyway. Melbourne has been kinda boring for shows lately and everyone is a bit of a cop at the moment so getting over to the US to play with some of our mates there is what I’m most looking forward to. Oh, and I think it’s basically conformed that we’re gonna do a split 7″ next up, with the thankfully reunited Kutabare who are one of the country’s best bands of the early 2000’s and now again.
Can’t wait! Now let’s get into what you’ve brought in for us today. You’ve chosen to lift the lid on some underappreciated filth from the underground. Let’s dive in…
Solemn – Asaru Bretheren [1995 demo]
Yet another early-mid 90’s demo from the north-east US that seeks to do nothing but pummel the sorry-ass listener down into the sodden earth they’re trying to claw themselves out of. This is some seriously miserable and wretched death metal borrowing from the usual suspects like Rottrevore and Incantation but expanding upon that winning formula by ramping up the gloom and further lowering the vocals down into the next register of near-gurgle. Strangely enough, throughout the two studio recorded tracks, a somewhat sombre and brooding feel is present, kinda like all this is gonna precipitate some sort of total disaster. The other two live tracks at the end sound pretty decent for the time as well. Great stuff. For fans of the general north-east US dark death metal sound that puts a real black cloud over all that E-standard tuned Florida snoozery. I ended up ripping a few riffs off outta this demo, and in all fairness, they’re too good not to, ha!
Rancid Christ – Baptized In Blasphemy [1993 demo]
3 tracks of Z-tuned, bowel-liquefying thuggery that’ll make you wanna tune down further than you think is necessary. Imagine Morpheus Descends a good 3 or 4 steps lower and stripped back to the massive chugs and tremolo riffs… yeah, this is fucking HEAVY and genuinely malevolent stuff. It’ll smother you in its bloated bulk and munch out your organs while you’re still kickin’. I have the feeling the dudes from Funebrarum would have eaten this shit up in the 90’s – you can easily notice the similarities between the two in how a similar balance of dark tremolo riffs and more mid tempo, aggro chunky riffs is employed. Head-smashing shit for those who can jump from Suffocation to Incantation back to Morpheus via Baphomet. I just wish it was longer, these 3 tracks aren’t enough! It’s the perfect antidote to today’s obsession with attempting to rip off Portal, shafting in some bullshit philosophical stance and calling it art.
Entrapment– Dismembered Redeemer [1993 demo]
Possibly the lowest-tuned band I’ve heard yet from the golden/rotten era of ‘91-’95 northern US death metal – the only other band vaguely similar in that regard is the mighty Hemdale. Good fucking grief, this is utterly putrefactive and disgusting, so much so that you can smell the gunk and bile immediately upon hitting the play button. If you can imagine Suffocation chugs intertwined with evil tremolo lines via the heaviest moments of Rottrevore and Dusk (US), then you’re on the right track, but shift it all down about 5 steps and you might be getting close. Feels and sounds like the earth heaving and vomiting up shafts of molten lava. The immensely apocalyptic pre-slams sparsely peppered across these 27 minutes absolutely put Devourment or any icon of chunky low tuned death metal to shame. In addition to the gut-spilling doom crush and lung-collapsing pre-slams, there are plenty of savage downblasts and mid-fast pace double kick runs throughout, making for a brilliantly balanced and all round excellent demo. I’ve no idea where to start in terms of getting a reissue done as I’ve only ever heard (and also heard of) people only having second or third generation tape dubs/rips, so hopefully some nerd out there that’s kept a pristine demo collection since 1993 has a decent copy still. GET ON THIS if you bury yourself in week-old cattle carcasses for fun.
Injurytoeye – Pathpathologypathos [demo]
This demo seemed to pop up from literally nowhere at the time of release back in about 2004. A CDr turned up in our locker at a radio station I did a show at and it had weird cover art of a clip-art looking newsreader which was from those old stickers you used to get with blank videotapes. We had no idea who it was or what it sounded like so we put it on in my mate’s car on the way home and were blown away instantly. For a month or so a heap of people in the grind scene here were also asking who the fuck were these people as they’d also anonymously received the demo in the mail.
This was the sole release by this band who played less than a handful of live shows and it still remains my favourite death metal release to ever come out of Australia. Raw and ugly but still pretty sophisticated and very creative death metal that seemed to have the slow suffocating crawl of diSEMBOWELMENT and the manic energy of Abramelin, 2 of Australia’s other best ever death metal bands, and there was also a noticeable Incantation influence but this was far far from being part of the Incantation-clone wave that was to crest some years later. There was the oppressive darkness, the crushing heaviness, and the stark kind of wooden sound to the drums and guitar, all of which I associate most with Incantation, but there was much more going on. Strange structure and timing shifts almost along the lines of a less oddball Demilich, skeletal, atonal leads that bring to mind Godflesh at their most stripped back, particularly in ‘The Nth Song For Death’. But one of the most standout moments is the almost instrumental centrepiece ‘Mysteries’ which takes the mournful tone and doomy atmosphere of diSEMBOWELMENT and twists it into a disturbing experience as the song slithers across an all but obscured sound clip of the devastating tale of a mother’s child being murdered, pulled from some daytime trash TV. The way the sample is employed and integrated with the dirge of the music comes off sounding like Supernova-era Today Is The Day taking a stab at doom-death.
There’s nothing about this release that puts a foot wrong, the songs are incredible, the mood of dread balancing with the rowdiness and energy, especially in the busy but super tasteful drumming, the bedroom recording that captures every detail but stays as raw and aggressive as you could hope for, ugly vocals that have power without any sense of chest-beating bravado or cheese and overall a timeless quality that absolutely puts this in the sphere of old school death metal but is still very unique and forward thinking and holds up totally next to any of the pseudo-prog-death bands at the moment plying their Lovecraftian wares. The record label I used to co-run, No Escape Records reissued this on CD in 2009 as our final release for the label which I was beyond thrilled to be a part of, and Zev the guitarist/vocalist of Injurytoeye also has reared his stupid head as vocalist in Contaminated. I only wish we were this good.
Torturor – Torturor 
Bubbling up from the sewers of New Zealand’s disgustingly fertile Christchurch death metal scene is the criminally overlooked Torturor, and their self released 2005 CD might be their only output, as I’m not sure of all the details of their existence. But this is incredibly sick grinding death that fuses the concrete slab brutality of bands like Rottrevore and Phlegm with the dark vomitous vibe of a more knuckle-dragging Embalmer and some hints of the early brutal death of the time like Devourment and guttural death-grind like Circle Of Dead Children and very early Mortician. Super fucking ugly but not at all stupid, just barbaric and above all very evil sounding. Vocalist Lindsey sticks mainly to the really guttural ala Mortician/Embalmer/CODC rather than the kinda more chest-beating modern guttural burpy style and it sounds really nasty.
Everything about this is supremely brutal but it all stays just on the right side of over the top, the vocals never get too cartoonish, the drumming is great and has lots of heavy-handed mid-pace blast like early Morgue but doesn’t get too fast and the riffs aren’t overly mindblowing taken on their own but the songs are so perfectly written and reasonably brief and have just the right balance of chainsawing grind and chunky groove. This scene was such a hotbed of sick as fuck old school death like Meat Yard, Sinistrous Diabolus, Eviscerate, Gorehouse, Molested Entrails and numerous others that somehow seemed to retain the vibe of the early days of the fusion of grind and death like Hemdale, early Pungent Stench, and Impetigo etc, a sound that was hard to find in the early/mid 2000’s outside of this town. Track this down at all costs as it’s truly a top shelf slab of sickness, and while you’re at it hunt out as much Christchurch death metal of this era as you can.
Fuck! Lots of stuff to dig through there. Give Contaminated a thumbs-up on their Facebook page for that comprehensive write-up and to keep up to date with their new shit. If you missed their insane debut album Final Man from earlier this year, you’ve got a second chance to pull ya bloody head in and give it a burl right now. If you dig noxious shredding death metal this album is a 2017 essential, pick it up from their bandcamp page here.